Sometimes Peaks and Pints has trouble knowing how to take the holidays. It’s tempting to just sink into a vat of gravy and football games and fruitcake and bourbon barrel-aged whatever and giftwrapping and marinate in the shiny, happy version of the celebration. And sometimes, it’s hard not to want say eff that to all the happy and the merry and the auld lang syne, to brood on how the candlelit cheer of season often doesn’t extend far beyond the comfier hearths. Peaks and Pints turns to the arts when we need a little 1955 and sugar plums — to pull us out of our crotchety ways. The South Sound is full of holiday artsy goodness – festivals, stage productions, art shows and special events out the wazoo fa la la la la. The arts are everywhere, draped with tinsel, wrapped in a bow with a pesky elf on top ringing a tiny bell. For instance, today three local choirs get their holiday on. WinterFest brings the much-adored Adelphian Concert Choir and Voci d’Amici to the University of Puget Sound Kilworth Memorial Chapel, with a performance of music and poetry from many traditions, cultures, and lands. The Northwest Repertory Singers presents “Christmas Ancient, Christmas Modern” featuring Vivaldi’s “Gloria” at 3 p.m. inside Mason United Methodist Church in the Proctor District. Last, at 7 p.m., University of Puget Sound’s annual pre-Christmas program, a traditional Festival of Lessons and Carols, celebrates the narrative traditions of the Christmas story through story, carols, and anthems. That works. Stop by Peaks and Pints before, after or both for a flight of holiday beers that we call Christmas Beer Crosscut 12.8.19: Carols.
Christmas Beer Crosscut 12.8.19: Carols
5.8% ABV, 40 IBU
Abita Brewing’s Christmas Ale changes recipes every year with brown ale taking the reins in 2019. It’s not your typical brown ale and might be even closer to a “hoppy red ale.” Brewed with Pale malt as well as a combination of Caramel, Biscuit, Munich, and Chocolate malts, Christmas Ale is hopped and dry-hopped with Columbus, Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo for orange and citrus, some caramel, and toffee on the nose. The flavor follows the nose with solid bitterness, more orange, some pine, caramel along with some toffee.
6.9% ABV, 40 IBU
Back in 1975, Anchor Brewing Co. released the first holiday beer in America since Prohibition. Since then, Anchor creates a new, secret recipe with a unique hand drawn label for their Our Special Ale, aka Christmas Ale, but the intent with each brew remains the same: joy for the changing seasons and celebration of the newness of life. Slightly darker than last year’s Christmas Ale, the 2019 edition is layered with toasted caramel and coffee flavors with subtle hints of Mexican chocolate, rounded out with herbaceous spices. Dip your nose for western evergreens, roasted malts, and coastal flowers. It’s a rich, round and full bodied-treat with a silky, smooth finish.
8.5% ABV, 45 IBU
Brewed with CTZ, Simcoe, Willamette and Celeia hops and five malts — including Chocolate malt and oats — Boundary Bay Brewing’s winter seasonal Cabin Fever is rich, malty and deceptively strong. With an extended conditioning period, this winter warmer has a smooth mouthfeel. The aroma has a rich, nutty maltiness with some vanilla, raisins, caramel and bread. The flavor leans sweet nutty initially and then opens up for more of a balance with spicy hops that are not strong and end up creating a lovely lingering bready aftertaste. Nice balance.
7.5% ABV, 65 IBU
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” sung by former jockey Jimmy Boyd, takes a humorous approach to a child’s shocking discovery of his mother’s infidelity. The Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon, brews a beer that pairs with Mommy’s merry adulterer — Bad Santa. This mysterious dark elixir is filled with complex malt flavors and aromas with toasted malt and roast character, blending seamlessly to the alluring herbal hop aroma that comes from copious amounts of Fuggle hops. Bad Santa doesn’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice; he just wants Mommy.
7% ABV, 75 IBU
10 Barrel Brewing’s Pray for Snow Winter Ale uses seven specialty malts and plenty of hops to create a herbal, malty, hoppy brew. Dark copper in color, the Pray for Snow has big malty aromas with hints of caramel, toffee, and spices. The German malt flavor profile with slight roasty notes gives the beer a subtle toffee sweetness balanced with a spicy hop bitterness and slight alcohol warming. Today, Peaks and Pints pours the nitro version for added creaminess.